Oscar Wilde led a life of glittering success swiftly followed by one of humiliating downfall. Born in Dublin in 1854 of well-placed if eccentric parentage, he became an intellectual and social star firstly at Trinity, Dublin, then at Magdalen, Oxford, before conquering the wider world of aristocratic London. Following triumphant lecture tours in the USA and Britain, he sealed his success with the publication of his novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, and his four great plays culminating in his enduring masterpiece ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

Abruptly his life was ruined by the revelation of, and subsequent imprisonment for, homosexuality. In 1897, after two years in jail, Wilde retired into self-imposed exile in France where, impoverished and deserted by all but a few friends, he died in Paris in 1900. However, both the comedy and the tragedy of his life have fascinated the twentieth century and now, over one hundred years later, his wit and his humanity strike home as true, very modern, and extremely funny.